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Book Review: The First
Chapbook For Golfers

By Jay Mankus,
Regional Contributor

Is The First Chapbook For Golfers Worthy Enough for Someone's Christmas Stocking?

Chapbook? What is a chapbook? This is not your prototypical eye-catching title for a book on a subject like golf, which is spreading globally as I speak. So what exactly is a chapbook?

Fortunately, Jeff Silverman, the person responsible for collecting and annotating The First Chapbook For Golfers, designates an entire page before the table of contents to inform readers where the phrase chapbook originated and what it means. According to Silverman, chapbooks were small publications designed for a wide audience of readers.

Dating back to the 16th century, these small publications were distributed by traveling vendors called chapmen. Hence, the name chapbook is derived from those who use to distribute and sell these small publications.

Chapbooks were created to entertain, inform and instruct their audience. According to Silverman, chapbooks contained an assortment of brief texts that were sometimes borrowed and by nature are timeless. Obviously, many of us who come across the phrase chapbook, will find it to be a ancient term that has been lost in our high tech society.

Since the time to reprint and expenses to copy such publications have been drastically decreased by revolutionary equipment used today, the concept of chapbooks have faded from our vocabulary. However, from a historical perspective, stories such as George Washington cutting down a cherry tree was first discovered in a chapbook composed by Parson Wells.

Other authors in early American history were forced to join their pieces together with a number of writers to split the cost of publishing. Thus, a smorgasbord of literary writing was created.

In The First Chapbook For Golfers, Jeff Silverman attempts to keep the idea of chapbooks alive with a slice of golf for a wide variety of golf enthusiasts. Whether its the legends of golf, psychology of the game, course design, etiquette and sportsmanship, woman in golf, or simply intriguing information you have never heard before, this chapbook for golfers has it and much more!

There are useful golf tips, hilarious quotes, honest insights from the games best, and interviews from celebrities about golf and what it means to them.

While Jeff Silverman accomplishes his goal by reaching a wide audience of golfers, he also exposes this book's weakness: not every chapter is for you! The best analogy I can think of is that sometimes you have to sit through a sitcom with your wife which you don't care for in order to wait for your favorite show to come on. In other words, one or more of these chapters will not suit your interests while others will command your attention.

For example, if you are a man reading the sixth chapter about Woman and Golf, you will likely have trouble trying to understand the emotions of woman and how it effects their golf game by Glenna Collett Vare.

However, if you have ever wondered what it is like for a country club or public golf facility to host a PGA Tour Event, you will be amazed at what Dan Jenkins has to say! Even within many of the chapters, which are short collections from various writers about a specific aspect of golf, I found myself either waiting on every word or trotting through hoping for a chapter or segment to end.

Although this book appeals to many golfers, it is a perfect stocking stuffer for the business traveler who is constantly on the road. Short chapters and segments which range from a page up to 10 pages or so, makes for quick and easy reading.

Since it always seems like you are starting a new section of the book, businessmen and woman can pick it up or put it down without getting lost or being distracted by their schedules. Those who commute by train, bus, subway, or carpool will also find The First Chapbook For Golfers a great way to kill time traveling to and from work.

Anyone who appreciates the history of golf and people who have made this game what it is today will find several portions of this book hard to put down. Meanwhile, golf nuts will love the brief words of wisdom they will read. Gray blocked areas throughout every chapter include quotes from Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Lee Trevino just to name a few. Silverman includes quotes that are serious, comical, and great to prepare yourself mentally for a round of golf.

One of my favorite quotes is found on page 179 by the former Chicago Cub, Ernie Banks, "Baseball reveals character, golf exposes it!" If you have played golf long enough, you have either experienced the harsh reality of Ernie's statement or scene tempers flare up close.


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This book also appeals to golfers who love to experience golf marathons during the winter months. These players who take weeklong trips to Myrtle Beach, along the Gulf Coast, or to the Southwest for golf might want to consider attending a golf school like the one Jeff Silverman journals about in chapter 10. The swiftness and simplistic nature of the tips in this chapter along with the entire book will allow players to gain confidence without thinking themselves into bad habits!

This chapbook is kind of like golf tips for dummies without your local club professional walking you through them step by step. Only you can change your golf swing, but this book gives you enough common sense to help you on your way.

With all the accolades I have given The First Chapbook For Golfers, there will be some hard core golfers who will be disappointed by the depth of chapbooks. Remember, this is not Golf Digest or Golf Illustrated whose audience is likely searching for that one detailed tip to put their golf game over the top. This chapbook is a smorgasbord of simplicity, history, charm, laughter, and honest thoughts comparing golf to real life.

The subject content is brief, points are often made quickly, and specifics mentioned are minimized to prevent overwhelming readers. Only those avid golfers who are willing to expand their horizons about golf or just love to absorb everything they read will get the most out of The First Chapbook For Golfers!

If you have a friend, co-worker, or family member who has recently taken up the game, this book is perfect for them. A must read for all beginners!

After reading this book myself, I believe we will be become familiar with the term chapbook, especially with Tiger Woods taking his game to new heights! Indeed, The First Chapbook For Golfers is worthy enough for a family member's Christmas stocking!

The First Chapbook For Golfers

Wit and Wisdom, Lessons and Lore
Retail price: $14.95
Collected and Annotated by Jeff Silverman
Woodford Press
5900 Hollis Street, Suite K
Emeryville, CA 94608